American Art after 1945

Jackson Pollock, Number 32, 1950, Lackfarbe auf Leinwand, 269 x 457,5 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010
Jackson Pollock, Number 32, 1950, Lackfarbe auf Leinwand, 269 x 457,5 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010
 

Another prominent accent within the Kunstsammlung is formed by circa 40 works of American art after 1945. The monumental Number 32 by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), dated 1950, is one of the artist’s mural-sized “drip paintings,” and is among the most important examples of Abstract Expressionism. Among four works by Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008) is Wager, produced in 1957, one of the largest and most intricate of his “combine paintings.”

The selection of American art continues with works by Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Mark Rothko, Julian Schnabel, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, and others. An important piece is an untitled painting by Cy Twombly from 1959 which displays the cursive gestures so characteristic of this artist, which negate everything traditionally associated with established pictorial or painterly systems. Also among the most striking works in the collection is Sol LeWitt’s mural-sized Scribbles: (KF), Wall Drawing # 1227 (2007). This work was left to the museum by the artist in his will. Acquired in connection with a temporary monumental installation mounted by Richard Serra in the Kunstsammlung in 1992 was the large-format sheet The New York Times Manufactures Censorship (1989), executed in wax crayon.

Until 1990, Robert Rauschenberg’s Inside-out and a work by Lee Bontecou (*1931), dated 1959-60, were among the few three-dimensional works owned by the Kunstsammlung. Today, the inventory includes important sculptural works, most prominently those by Conceptual and Minimal artists. Among these is the floor piece Roaring Forties 48 (1988) by Carl André, as well as two works exemplifying the uncompromisingly rigorous formal idiom employed by Donald Judd (1928–1994). There are also other space-filling works by John Chamberlain, Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, and Barnett Newman, whose sculpture Zim Zum II (1969/1985) is meant to be experienced in physical terms by viewers when traversing it. Here, bodily perception – from spatial contraction to expansion – is meant to trigger acts of self-reflection. This decisive element is characteristic of works by a number of artists whose careers coincided with Newman’s.